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TEAM JFR RACE REPORT – 2012 Winternationals Results

john Force, 2012 winternationals winner

FUNNY CAR – John Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang, 4.080, 315.64 mph def. Mike Neff, Fishers, Ind., Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, 4.036, 316.82 mph.

TOP FUEL – Spencer Massey, Ft. Worth, Tex., Fram dragster, 3.750, 325.77 mph def. Antron Brown, Brownsburg, Ind., Matco Tools dragster, 3.794, 320.43 mph.

PRO STOCK – Greg Anderson, Mooresville, NC, Summit Pontiac GXP, 6.549, 210.87 mph def. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Delaware, Ohio, JEGS Dodge Avenger, 6.586, 209.62 mph

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John Force, 2012 winternationals results, 2012 winternationals winner


POMONA — John Force bounced back from a dismal end to the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle season with his sixth win at the O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals today. It was the 134th win of the 15-time champion’s career and also the four round wins today give the Yorba Linda, Calif., resident an even 1,100 round wins for his career. Force has followed up his previous five O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals wins by also winning the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car championship (’91, ’93, ’97, ’02 and ’10). In the final Force outran teammate and championship contending driver Mike Neff.

Force beat Alexis DeJoria, Tim Wilkerson and Gary Densham to get to the final with Neff. The experience differential between Force and fellow finalist teammate Mike Neff was sizable when you consider this was Force’s 588th race to Neff’s 73rd. Neff was the 38th different driver to face Force in a final. This was the 28th season for Force to win at least one NHRA national event.

The win was a culmination of a busy off-season that saw Force add to his brain-trust by bringing back some talent that had slipped away.


“I dedicated the trophy to the brain trust, my crew chiefs Jimmy Prock, Mike Neff, Guido (Dean Antonelli), Ron Douglas, Bernie Fedderly, John Medlen, Dickie Venables, Danny from Indy (DeGennaro), and Scott Wible. We got a group back to the way we used to think and function. This was a good start,” said Force.

“The thing that really mattered to me was getting right. People left for reasons. I didn’t have a car for John Medlen. Dickie Venables left earlier with Tony because he wasn’t really in line for a car. I am getting them back and I am feeling a whole lot better. Two weeks ago Medlen walked into my shop and said I want to come home. I called (Roger) Burgess on it and he said yeah he needs to be with you John. Burgess (R2B2 team owner) is really a good guy.”


“It is amazing how we all pulled together before the final. All my brain trust was working on my Mustang and helping Neff. I knew Neff was going to spank me. His Castrol hot rod has been fast all day. We have teamwork and that is what will win us championships. I have done it before and maybe we’ll do it again.”

With the win Force clinched the first spot in the inaugural Traxxas Nitro Shootout. Force won the previous race within a race, the Bud Shootout, a record six times. When Force was told about adding another historic first to his ever expanding resume he was thrilled with the prospect.

“(NHRA president Tom) Compton said if we won this race we would make the Traxxas Nitro Shootout. That is a big deal. I can’t wait to get to Indy. I want to thank Traxxas for giving the Funny Car and Top Fuel teams this extra money.”

While Force was concentrating on winning today he was also focused on the development of his youngest daughter, Courtney Force, in her professional debut. Courtney made her own history qualifying No. 12 (three spots higher in her first race than her sister Ashley Force Hood) and winning her first, first round race (something only one out of eight JFR drivers had done, Gary Densham).

“I am proud of Courtney and the sport needs these women. They have Alexis DeJoria and Melanie Troxel who is going to come back hopefully. I told Courtney there are five things she needs to keep in mind. Love you sponsors, love your team, love the media because they are your lifeline, love the competition, and love the fans. The rest will take care of itself. She works it hard,” said Force. “She told me she always wanted to be with me and racing me. I told her she was going to get that chance. We’ll see what happens. It is a growing time for NHRA in a down economy. To get a company like Traxxas to come in with Castro, Auto Club, Ford, BrandSource, Mac Tools and Freightliner. You have to grow when stuff is bad.”

For Neff it was a tough race to drop. The six-time national event winner was looking for his first Winternationals title as a driver. He had been flawless all day posting three consecutive 4.07 second passes (4.077, 4.070 and 4.074) before stepping on his tune up to post the quickest run of the weekend, a 4.036 second pass at 316.82 mph in the final.


“I got distracted and it sounded to me like someone was revving their engine up and at first I thought, ‘Is John over there revving his engine up?’ And then I thought, ‘Am I revving the engine up?’ So I started to pull back off the throttle to make sure that I wasn’t revving the engine up when the tree came down and I was late. I’m not blaming it on John. I mean, he definitely used his John Force tactics on me out there, but that’s just something you have to be able to deal with,” said Neff.

“I’m happy for John. He hasn’t won in a while and to have two Castrol Mustangs in the finals at the Winternationals is just a win-win situation. We knew that going up there (to the final round) so the pressure was off. One of the Force cars were going to win and that was really cool.”



Since mid-January testing in West Palm Beach, Fla., Courtney Force and the Traxxas team have been working on building from previous passes and constantly moving forward, and this was their weekend to show that. Force ran a 4.19, a 4.20 and a 4.21 during qualifying, proving the Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car an extremely consistent car.

“It went better than I expected. I have all the faith in the world in my crew guys and my crew chiefs Ron Douglas and Scott Wible. Coming out as a rookie driver I didn’t set my expectations too high for myself. I have a great team behind me and great teammates therefore I have had great teachers. I just want to do everything I have learned in testing,” said Courtney, the youngest daughter of John Force. “I am very happy with how it went. Getting qualified alone was a big accomplishment. I came in and brought my crew guys some brownies and cookies and I wrote them a big thank you note telling them how proud I am of them. It is a big deal; it is the Winternationals. This is something I have always dreamed of. I always came and watched my dad so it is surreal to say now I am participating in that race with all these big hitters out here,” she added.

As crew chief Ron Douglas looked back at a hectic four days with a new team and new driver he felt relief and confidence moving forward to the NHRA Arizona Nationals, “We wanted to be consistent. We wanted to go down the track every run. We were working some bugs out still and you know, it’s a new team, new parts, new car, so we’re still working things out. We wanted to be a little bit faster than we were, but it was good to be consistent and keep making runs and letting her get runs under her belt. Then today, when we thought it was time we tried to open it up and run a little better and it ran better. We still need to do a little more to get it to perform better, but overall we’re happy with the way things went.”

“Courtney was flawless this weekend and probably removed a lot of doubt from a lot of people because she really did a great job; she did as well as anybody out there. Her lights were good, she handled the car well, kept it in the middle of the race track, just did a great job; we couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Force went up against fellow Ford racer Bob Tasca III this morning during the first round of eliminations. She posted a 4.204 ET at 309.27 mph, an almost perfect average of her qualifying times, which would send the 23-year-old Auto Club Road to the Future Award candidate to the next round against team member Mike Neff.

“(Tasca) is a tough competitor. Our car was consistent all weekend. That is the only thing you can really ask for. We lucked out on that run. Something happened to his car and we were able to drive around him and get the win. I was pretty shocked. I was yelling at my guys on the radio with excitement. I was screaming when I saw that win light. When I popped out of the roof hatch I was a little unsure and I wanted to make sure that I won before I got too excited. It was a big deal. You have to go back to the pit and regain focus.”

With pressure building on Force’s debut weekend, the team knew they would have to kick it up a notch against John Force Racing driver/tuner, Neff, and that’s just what they did. Force made an impressive pass at 4.14, considerably quicker than her previous passes over the weekend, but that wasn’t enough to stay ahead of Neff.

“I knew he was going to be tough to beat. He had been running very consistent as well. He was running in the 4.0s in the first round. I knew it would be tough, but we went out there and ran the best number of the weekend for us, a 4.14. He just outran us.”

Force is thankful for the opportunity to make her childhood dreams come alive and proud of her brand new team.

“I just have so much confidence in my team. We realize it is the big leagues, but we are capable of having a good car. We are up there with them (tough competitors) and I think we can be a competitive car. We can be a great team if we all stick together. We just want to learn from every run and try and make it go quicker. I think we can definitely have a good car in Phoenix,” said Force.

Force was very well received throughout the weekend. Each day fans lined up at the ropes to witness history in John Force Racing pit areas along with sponsors, family and friends. Force stayed calm, cool and collected amongst the stress brought on by race weekend activities.

“It (debut weekend) was a little overwhelming. There was a lot of pressure. I was more excited than anything. I just want to thank my sponsors like Traxxas, Castrol, Auto Club, Ford, Mac Tools and BrandSource for giving me this opportunity. I was just excited to be able to be in a race in a Funny Car. I always dreamed of going three hundred miles per hour. It is just awesome to be here,” added Force.

The biggest surprise of the day for John Force Racing and for the Funny Car category was the early exit for Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang. After blasting to the top of the field on Saturday in the third qualifying session the 2009 Funny Car champion was confident going into eliminations. In the opening round his Funny Car smoked the tires versus Todd Lesenko and he was done for the day.

“I was glad to be the No. 1 qualifier but like I said last night I would have liked to have gotten the fourth qualifying run in. This morning we had some mechanical issues before the first round and we just got snake bit. The season is just starting and this Auto Club team is too good to hang our heads. I am glad we are going to be at a race track next weekend,” said Hight.

For all the success Hight and crew chief Jimmy Prock have had earning No. 1 qualifiers and being one of the most consistent Funny Cars in recent memory they have not been able to translate that success into race wins. They have 40 career No. 1 qualifiers together but have only one from the top spot five times.

“We are still going to go after No. 1s. We are just going to do a better job on race day,” said Hight.

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FUNNY CAR – 1. John Force, , Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang, 114; 2. Mike Neff, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, 95; 3. Tied, Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger, and Gary Densham, Lawson Oil Dodge Charger, 73 each; 5. Jack Beckman, Valvoline Dodge Charger, 62; 6. Courtney Force, Traxxas Ford Mustang, 52; 7. Tie, Tim Wilkerson, Levi, Ray and Shoup Ford Mustang, and Todd Lesenko, Tap-It Brewing Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 51 each; 9. Robert Hight, Auto Club Ford Mustang, 41; 10. Bob Tasca III, Quick Lane/Ford Parts Ford Mustang, 39.

TOP FUEL – 1. Spencer Massey, FRAM dragster, 119; 2. Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster, 95; 3. Morgan Lucas, GEICO Powersports dragster, 87; 4. Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army dragster, 78; 5. Bob Vandergriff, C&J Energy Services dragster, 57; 6. Tie, Brandon Bernstein, Lucas Oil dragster, and Shawn Langdon, Al-Anabi dragster, 54 each; 8. Clay Millican, Parts Plus dragster, 52; 9. Khalid alBalooshi, Al-Anabi dragster, 34; 10. Tie, Steve Torrence, Capco Construction dragster, Doug Kalitta, Kalitta Air dragster, and David Grubnic, Kalitta Air dragster, 32 each.

PRO STOCK – 1. Greg Anderson, Summit Racing Pontiac GXP, 114; 2. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dodge Avenger, 91; 3. Jason Line, Summit Racing Pontiac GXP, 82; 4. Mike Edwards, Penhall Pontiac GXP, 81; 5. Allen Johnson, Mopar Parts Dodge Avenger, 59; 6. Vincent Nobile, Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger, 55; 7. Tie, Rodger Brogdon, Racers Edge Pontiac GXP, and 8. Shane Gray, Big O Tires/Service Central Pontiac GXP, 53 each; 9. Ronnie Humphrey, Hot Rod Hardware Pontiac GXP, 41; 10. Tie, Ron Krisher, Valvoline Pontiac GXP, Kurt Johnson, Mark Christopher Group Pontiac GXP, Greg Stanfield, Bossier City, La., Nitro Fish Pontiac GXP, and Larry Morgan, Lucas Oil Ford Mustang, 32 each.




JOHN FORCE, 62, Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang

Final Qualifying: 6th at 4.126 seconds, 312.28 mph
Race results: Beat Alexis DeJoria, Tim Wilkerson, Gary Densham, Mike Neff

Quotable: John Force on Courtney’s debut “Courtney is the baby, you have to love her. This is what she loves. You worry every round. I saw her 4.14 and I knew Neff was going to run a great number. The fact that she just right down the aisle she is just learning every run. When you love you kids like that, that is all that matters. I am proud of her just like I was proud of Ashley.

MIKE NEFF, 45, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang

Final Qualifying: 4th at 4.103 seconds, 307.16 mph
Race results: Beat Tony Pedregon, Courtney Force, Ron Capps. Lost to John Force.

Quotable: Mike Neff on racing Courtney Force in 2nd round – “Luckily that blower belt held on as long as it did. That was exciting to be racing Courtney. She has done a fantastic job for Traxxas. I remember my first weekend. I want to congratulate her on her first weekend. When I lifted I saw her go right by me so I knew she had to be right there with me. We will try to keep on keeping on over here with this Castrol Funny Car.”


ROBERT HIGHT, 42, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: No. 1 at 4.060 seconds, 316.52 mph

Race results: Lost to Todd Lesenko.
Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (quickest of Q3)

Quotable: “I was glad to be the No. 1 qualifier but like I said last night I would have liked to have gotten the fourth qualifying run in. This morning we had some mechanical issues before the first round and we just got snake bit. The season is just starting and this Auto Club team is too good to hang our heads. I am glad we are going to be at a race track next weekend” –ROBERT HIGHT


COURTNEY FORCE, 23, Traxxas Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: 12th at 4.199 seconds, 307.09 mph
Race results: Beat Bob Tasca III. Lost to Mike Neff.

Quotable: “It went better than I expected. I have all the faith in the world in my crew guys and my crew chiefs Ron Douglas and Scott Wible. Coming out as a rookie driver I didn’t set my expectations too high for myself. I have a great team behind me and great teammates therefore I have had great teachers. I just want to do everything I have learned in testing” – COURTNEY FORCE

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TEAM JFR QUALIFYING REPORT #3 on the next page…

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